MUZAFFARGARH: Brick kiln owners and workers staged a protest against the closure of brick kilns as according to a notification issued by the Punjab government, kilns across the province will remain closed from October 21 to December 31 to deal with the increasing amount of smog in the atmosphere.
The government adopted this preventive measure to create awareness among the public and to tackle the problem of smog and environmental pollution. Moreover, the prices of bricks have also increased by 33%.
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Protesters complained that a trolley containing 3,000 bricks was previously priced at Rs15,000, but now it is being sold at Rs20,000.
Owners of brick kilns say that closing their businesses for more than two months would cause a colossal monetary loss to them and a large number of workers will also lose their jobs.
Talking to The Express Tribune a brick kiln owner, Mohammad Yousuf, said that the prices of bricks have increased because a large number of kilns in Muzaffargarh have been closed. He said that the government has imposed Section 144 and banned the burning of crop stubble and garbage as well as industrial and vehicular emissions including all those chemicals causing air and environmental pollution.
The protesters opposed the closure of the kilns and demanded the ban be removed.
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A labourer, Allah Baksh, said his entire family, including his wife and two sons, work at brick kilns to make ends meet. They expressed that if the government has ordered the closure of brick kilns, an alternative source of income should be provided to them.
The environment department has also banned the construction of new brick kilns that have BTK technology. However, ZigZag brick kilns will be permitted to function as they reduce environmental pollution by 70%.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2018.